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Slump hits Asia printer market

Printer shipments to the Asia-Pacific region inch up a mere 0.2 percent in the second quarter, despite price cuts, aggressive bundling and trade-in programs.

SINGAPORE--Printer shipments to the Asia- Pacific region inched up a mere 0.2 percent in the second quarter, despite price cuts, aggressive bundling and trade-in programs.

This lower-than-expected growth--3.14 million units in the second quarter this year, compared with 3.08 million in the same period last year--was due to the overall economic slowdown, cautionary spending and "the doldrums of the entire hardware industry," according to market researcher Dataquest. The Asia-Pacific region's figures exclude Japan.

"While government remained committed to its procurement exercise, the consumer and business sectors continued to be cautionary in their spending behavior," Dataquest Asia-Pacific analyst Lai-Ling Lam said in a statement.

However, the scenario could have been worse, if not for the new products, price cuts, bundling and trade-in programs, Lam noted.

Compared with the first quarter of the year, printer shipments dipped 2.4 percent. Dataquest attributed the decline to weakened demand in large markets such as Taiwan, Australia and Korea.

In fact, second-quarter printer demand in Taiwan and Australia plummeted a record 29 percent each compared with the previous year, Dataquest said.

Korea, the region's second-largest market, experienced a 13 percent year-over-year decline in printer shipments for the quarter.

On the brighter side, printer demand remained moderately stable in China, the region's largest market. Although the country is beginning to feel the heat of the economic meltdown, shipments grew 22 percent year-over-year in the second quarter.

Rapid computerization of small and medium-sized businesses helped to sustain growth in that country, offsetting lowered demand from consumers, Dataquest said.

Printer shipments to Singapore continued to shrink. After suffering a 9 percent year-over-year decline in the first quarter to 73,000 units, the second quarter recovered slightly to 75,507 units--which nonetheless represented a 4 percent year-over-year decline.

Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Canon, which have dominated the region's markets for the past five years, maintained their market share in the second quarter.

Leading the pack was HP, with 31 percent market share for the quarter, followed by Epson with 25 percent and Canon with 19 percent.

Staff writer Irene Tham reported from Singapore.